There is debate to what extent employers are entitled to interfere with the lifestyle and health of their workers. In this context, little information is available on the opinion of employees. Within the framework of a workplace health promotion (WHP) program, moral considerations among workers were investigated.
Employees from five companies were invited to participate in a WHP program. Both participants (n = 513) and non-participants (n = 205) in the program filled in a questionnaire on individual characteristics, lifestyle, health, and opinions regarding WHP.
Nineteen percent of the non-participants did not participate in the WHP program because they prefer to arrange it themselves, and 13% (also) preferred to keep private life and work separate. More participants (87%) than non-participants (77%) agreed with the statement that it is good that employers try to improve employees’ health (χ2 = 12.78, p = 0.002), and 26% of the non-participants and 21% of the participants think employer interference with their health is a violation of their privacy. Employees aged 50 year and older were more likely to agree with the latter statement than younger workers (OR = 1.56, 95% CI 1.02–2.39).
This study showed that most employees support the importance of WHP, but in a modest group of employees, moral considerations may play a role in their decision whether or not to participate in WHP. Older workers were more likely to resist employer interference with their health. Therefore, special attention on such moral considerations may be needed in the communication, design, and implementation of workplace health promotion programs.